Were she to face any other systemic challenge, whether big or small, I would take that challenge on as my own. I would write, speak, march, lobby and fundraise until my throat was hoarse or, more likely, she became embarrassed by me and asked me to stop. How, then, could I justify turning a blind eye to the primary systemic challenge she would face throughout her life?
I'm 39 years old. I'm not all that proud of my behaviour as a teenager and young adult. It's been years since the last time I viewed a woman as a sexual conquest, but the impending arrival of a daughter has me swimming back into my past, and I feel the riptide of guilt pulling me under. Like the conman who becomes an FBI agent, maybe I can use my ingrained flaws and experiences as a method to shape my daughter into a young woman who could see a guy like me coming a mile away.
The emotional distress started to make me feel sick all the time and it came to the point that I just couldn't continue like this anymore. I decided that my first step to healing was to talk to people who have experienced the same type of loss, and by doing this it helped me realize that everything I was feeling was normal.
Some are geographically distant from those they hold dear and raise a solitary glass to absent friends. Others have lost loved ones to the grave. But for many of us, "no contact" is a choice we consciously made. Loneliness is simply less painful than the agony of spending time with our toxic families.
Company is coming! Get rid of the couches. We can't let people know we SIT! ...There cannot be any sign of LIVING in this house... I want this place looking like a new Mediterranean fusion restaurant by noon... This is a dishtowel. I need a hand towel. What are we? Barbarians!?!" Does this ring any bells?
All I want for Father's Day is a son who's healthy and happy, living life to the fullest just like Daddy taught him. A son who'll go out and be the best he can be at whatever he chooses to do -- nothing will change the fact that he's my son, and that his Dad will always be proud of him. In fact, he already is.
I didn't know what to expect when I became a Dad. I didn't lack good fatherly figures -- I just had no clue of what the world expected of me. We hear plenty of stories blaming fathers in absentia for children's bad behaviour, society diagnosing a lack of the firm disciplinarian they so sorely needed to keep them in line -- but people rarely talk about what the value of a good father is.
Eighteen years ago, fathers offered moral support with breastfeeding through fetching a glass of water for the wife. Now, things are different. This generation of dads is not leaving their partners' side to go home. Dads want to be involved in breastfeeding, and taking care of their partners and babies.
Seven months later and I'm still stunned by the palpable pain I feel in the pit of my chest when I think of him. I marvel at how grief just patiently sits there quietly, waiting for me to suddenly catch a glimpse of someone who looks like him, or for a whiff of someone's Aqua Velva aftershave, that cheap blue stuff he splashed on his face when I was a kid, and suddenly pain, like a searing knife, cuts through me. Seven months of firsts. The first Christmas without him, first New Years' celebrations, first Easter, and now... the first Father's Day.
Sunday, June 15 is Father's Day -- the one day of the year when the mainstream media and much of the public pretend to actually value fatherhood and the role of a father in the modern family. For the remaining 364 days, the role of fathers in the family is discounted, downplayed, taken for granted or seen as optional. Fathers are attacked by a court system that unfairly and disproportionately refuses them custody of their children. Attacked by the media that all too often, and wildly out of proportion to reality, portrays them as bumbling, villainous or incompetent.